yues ay, July 1, I JIlI VVMI l5I.frg tn
By MORT ROSENBLUM state with well-planned kidnap-
Associated Press Writer ings, assassination and psycholo-
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay-For gical terror.
decades Uruguay was a geogra- In April 1972, Tupamaros ex-
phically misplaced Switzerland, ecuted some senior officers, and
rich, democratic and stable. Now, the army reacted violently,
with tank trucks in its plazas and touching off a week of butchery
hunger in its slums, it's more between the two sides.
like the raft of Latin America.
Congress stands deserted, look- THE FILM "State of Siege" is
ing like a four-story cake from a based on one incident in the his-
wedding that never came off. tory of the Tupamaros' activity.
Boulevardiers shoot icy glances Bordaberry, new to office and
at army jeeps cruising past the elected as a dark horse, convinc-
streetcorner flower stands. ed Congress to give the Army a
free hand to put down the guer-
PRESIDENT JUAN M A R I A rillas without courts or custom-
Bordaberry, a conservative cat- to slow it down.
tleman propelled by the military, Officers extracted information
closed down Congress June 27 by torture and followed it up with
for the first time since 1933. All machine-gun bursts. They rip-
government now comes from him ped up floors in private homes
- and top army officers. to find arms caches and "pe sples
Uruguay lived in near paralysis jails" where kidnap victims were
until last Thursday as the Com- kept.
munist-run National Workers Con- THOUSANDS WERE arrested
vention (CNT) pressed a two- utli ia rmtccu
week general strike indapparent until, in a final dramatic coup
hopes of unseating Bordaberry de grace, soldiers trapped and
and forcing elections. captured Tupamaro leader Paul
Then from hiding places around Sendic.
the capital, union leaders called Buoyed by its victory and pow-
off the strike. But few people in er, the military began issuing
this highly politicized country of statements involving politics and
2.8 million European immigrants economics. Then, tin February
and their descendants consider 1973, Bordaberry appointed a new
that the final round. defense minister and the Army
flatly said no.
BORDABERRY'S ACTION w a s Bordaberry, determined to re-
one step in a long process that sist, barricaded himself in his
started when the military regeiv- office and lined up some navy
ed wide powers to suppress troops to defend him. The Army
Uruguay's Tupamaro urban g'er- rolled tanks up to his official pal-
rillas. ace and, before any one fired,
The Tupamaros, using a name Bordaberry gave in.
recalling Uruguay's now exter- THAT WON, the military asked
minated Indians, attacked t h e Congress to withdraw immunity
wcase a bit tarnished
from leftist Sen. Enrique Erro.
Army officers wanted to try him
for alleged Tupamaro connec-
tions. When Congress refused,
Bordaberry dissolved it.
"Well, Congress wasn't worth
much by then anyway," grumb-
led one middle class Uruguayan
who was more disturbed by the
country's economic plight. "We
are just not used to this . .."
The only organized opposition
came from the Communists who
had infiltrated the labor move-
ment. They succeeded in a long
strike, but tanks, tear gas and
machine-gun bullets into the air
broke up a protest rally they
tried to organize last week.
STILL, MANY Uruguayans turn-
ed out to chant the line "tyrants
tremble" from the national an-
them and scrawl fresh antimili-
tary slogans on the increasingly
seedy walls on this once-wealthy
Two strikers were shot dead by
soldiers while demonstrating, and
several persons were wounded
when the army broke up the ral-
ly. Many hundreds were arrested,
at least temporarily,
A generation ago, Uruguay was
Latin America's showcase. Work-
ers could draw substantial social
security at 50 years of age and
lie around on the spotless South
Atlantic beaches. Everyone work-
URUGUAY'S WEALTH walked
around on its plains - g r e a t
herds of cattle and sheep that-
thrived with almost no care.
There was no need to develop
scientific improvements or care-
Since the Korean War how-
ever, the bottom has dropped out
of Uruguay's meat and wool mar-
ket, and practically nothing has
been done to diversify the econ-
omy. Nearly 80 per cent of wool
exports still go out raw or only
The resulting loss of foreign ex-
change export earnings staggered
the government, which w a s
heavily committed to welfare and
public works spending. For some
periods, for instance, more than
one-third of the labor force work-
ed directly for the government,
and some employes had three dif-
ferent public jobs at a time.
UNDER FORMER President
Jorge Pacheco Areco, economists
say, large sums of money allo-
cated for improving meat pro-
duction didn't do the job. Invest-
ment earnings and possible de-
velopment capital found t h e i r
way out of Uruguay.
"I figure a man earning my
salary would have been 60 per
cent richer 20 years ago in terms
of what he could buy and save -
but that doesn't say it all", said a
top-level accountant making the
equivalent of $400 a month.
Until recently an Uruguayan
could always console himself
with a thick steak. Now beef is
so short that the government is
to impose a two- or three-month
ban on domestic beef sales so
there will be enough for export.
INFLATION IN 1972 was 94.6
per cent, second only to Chile in
Latin America, and the cost of
living went up 33.1 per cent dur-
ing the first five months of 1973.
Unemployment has tripled in
five years to about 100,000. A
pound of meat that now costs 70
cents was about one-fourth that
price in 1968. In five years, the
price of a cheap business suit
has doubled to $45 or so, over
half of the average monthly
More than half the inhabitants
of Oklahoma-sized Uruguay live
in Montevideo, a city of scruffily
faded elegance that looks strange-
ly unfinished despite its 247 years
of age. The city could use a lake
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